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Cutting Drawer Box notches for undermount

Bob Member

I am doing about 300 to 400 drawer boxes a month and I am about to start offering notching for under mount slides.

Look like I am going to need about an 1 1/4 notch at the from and smaller at the back.

I am thinking about a dedicated cheap shaper with dodo blades to cut set up to cut both front and back notch in one pass through.

I don't want to use the table saw because of having to do 2 passes and the setup time.

Anyone doing it with a shaper?
How is it working?

Any other suggestions?

5/3/16       #2: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...
Bob Member

Dado not Dodo :-)
But I do want to set it up so any Dodo can do it.

5/3/16       #3: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...
Dustin orth


I do this on a shaper using an insert tip rabbiting cutter with spurs from Amana tools. I do all my boxes in one direction , then flip the cutter over and cut the other. I can do maybe 50 drawers in under an hour, usually less.

5/3/16       #4: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...
D Brown

I cut the drawer box back to sit on top of the bottom , no notch needed , unless I'm missing something .

5/3/16       #5: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...
Bob Member

To start with, they will be dovetailed boxes.
(need to notch after assembly)

Slots need to be front and back.

I just got full specs and front notch needs to be 2 1/8" for front clip to mount to drawer front. Back notch needs to be about 1 1/4". I don't think it will matter if back notch is cut at same width as the front.

5/3/16       #6: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...
Jim Herron

I've got the Amana insert head with spurs mounted in the shaper.
Does a decent job.
For that many boxes on a regular basis you'd probably be better served with a dedicated notcher, ie Penske or similar.
The time saved and safety gain over a shaper with that much head exposed and ready to launch a box would be a no brainer.
I do most of mine with a telephone these days.
I have a 15 spindle dovetailer but can touch them for what I can buy them for.
Still nice to be able to knock out a few boxes or misorder on the fly.

5/3/16       #7: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...
Jim Herron

Missed part of your post.
Dodo using WIDE (think aggressive) dado on shaper equals HUGE medical disaster in the making.

5/3/16       #8: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...
Kevin Jenness

I have installed many a Blum slide on factory built dovetail drawers that were notched only at the back. Why do you need to notch the front of the box? Probably 5% of those boxes were missing pins that got knocked off by careless handling or shipping damage due to short grain at the notch. Do you really want to induce that weakness at the front of the box where it will be all too obvious? Fastening the clips to the finished drawer front is much less forgiving than attaching the front to the installed box.

5/4/16       #9: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...
Dennis Bean  Member


Hello Bob,

There are a couple of very efficient machines on the market for this operation. Penske and Hurst are 2 that come to mind. With 300 drawers per month the machine would probably pay for itself in no time. These machines are designed to plow the notch and bore the pin hole with one pass per side.

Here is some info on one brand.

Hurst Engineering Drawer Notch Machine

5/4/16       #10: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...
Bob Member

Kevin, not my choice. The only under-mount slides I can get that are in 2" increments require the clip be mounted to the drawer front.
We do closets and it would really disrupt our designers to do the 3" increments of Blum or others.

At in and around $10K both those machines are out of my range at this time.

The more I think about the shaper it scares me as well.

I am now thinking about using a small table top CNC and bar codes for calling the program. Maybe a bit slower but a lot safer. I could build 2 for about 1/4 the price of the dedicated notcher and probably be faster.

I am going to experiment with our Biesse to see if this is viable.

5/4/16       #11: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...
Kevin Jenness


That makes sense, but it still leaves a weak point at the bottom corners of the drawer. I can"t count the times I looked for those broken pins to glue them back on, failed and installed the drawer gap-toothed because the show had to go on. It might be worth the extra minute to secure those weak corners with a micropinner.

5/4/16       #12: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...

Have you considered a custom stagger tooth head mounted in a table saw with a recess machined to allow the arbor nut to be secured? The cutting pressure of a wide cutter is what knocks the weak dovetail socket flying.
I think it would be infinitely safer than the shaper setup, especially with a sled, and would facilitate a blowout board.
How much are you charging to notch and bore the boxes?
How many boxes would you need to do to get back to zero on the 10k machine?
What's a hand worth? What's the worry worth?
Just some considerations.

5/4/16       #13: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...
Bob Member

The safest option appear to be CNC.
That's the rout I am going to pursue.

First I have to prove it will work on a CNC.
We will run some tests on our production router.

I have a need for some flip operations that would tie up the main production router that I would like to do and a couple of other non critical operations, so I may try a cheap slow Chinese 4X8 CNC just for this type so stuff.
I am lucky that I can maintain these types of machines or I would never try one from China. Also having several "non critical uses" is key here.

I really wanted to add making the dovetail drawer boxes on a CNC to help justify the 2nd machine. (This also would have made this problem moot) But, I read there were some issues using this method and no one responded on the CNC forum about making them that way. Anyone know of a successful operation using CNC to cut (semi) dovetail drawer box parts?

5/4/16       #14: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...
Stuart Douglas

No notch in the front, and just cut the whole back short. It allows the bottom of the drawer to be removed for finishing, or replaced when damaged. Secure with a screw (or brads), up into the bottom edge of the drawer back. Done deal. It's a more flexible way of doing these and the only downside is the potential for the bottom dovetail to get "gap toothed." It's at the bottom of the back of the drawer and hardly noticeable.

5/4/16       #15: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...
Bob Member

Stuart: What if my slides require a slot in the front? :-)

5/4/16       #16: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...
Mark Elliott Member


Take a look at the KV MUV slides. They come in 2" increments and don't requirer the front notch.


5/4/16       #17: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...
Bob Member

Everything is a trade off. The KV's are 3 times the price of of the imports I am testing and so far so good. Trying to find that ballance.

5/5/16       #18: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...

Bob, if you're notching the front and back, IMHO you're over-thinking this...

It comes down to efficiency... for a CNC, you'll have to set-up both the front and back on the table, as well as, programming for notching and with the notching machine above, you're still dealing with four corners (not to mention a costly investment)...

Since you're notching both the front/back, you can simply run the drawers after assembly with the support of the fence and only have to make one more pass to get to 1.25"...

I mean, you're literally talking about 15 seconds on each side per pass... add a hole jig for above the notch in the back with a drill bit and depth stop, and again, we're talking seconds... at 18-20 drawers per day, let's say it takes a TOTAL of an hour to notch and drill the holes (allowing a total of 3 minutes per drawer on average)... it would take a lot longer using a CNC no matter the set-up... and would you really want to tie up a CNC and an operator who most likely makes more for notching?

Even if you're paying a guy $20/hour (most likely less), you're stressing (maybe a bit strong characterization) over $20/day for a service that you're going to charge for I assume (average is around $3 for notching) so at 18-20 drawers per day (300-400/month) you are making more than double your labor cost (considering loaded labor cost) for an add-on service...

Add to it, it allows you to use existing tooling (even if you wanted to dedicate a table saw for it, a lot cheaper equipment purchase), and not to mention dado blades used for this purpose will last a lot longer than bits, so you'll save money on consumables... and the skill level is minimum for the application as laid out...

Just some thoughts... Best of luck... 8^)

5/5/16       #19: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...

I set up to dado with a sled prior to assembly. You can notch 10 or more parts per pass by stacking them all together Takes 10 minutes total for 20 boxes. Ive also tried one scoring cut and breaking out the notch with a hard blow from a hammer. Works okay but occasionally breaks higher than I'd like.

5/5/16       #20: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...
Dustin orth


I will try and do a video of how I do this so you can see exactly how simple it is for me to do large quantities of drawers in a short time period SAFELY. Dustin

5/5/16       #21: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...

Anxious to see the video.
Hit it...

5/8/16       #22: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...
dustin orth


I am attaching 2 videos, one describes how I do this, the second shows how I do it. Sorry if I didn't put the links in the right place. Dustin

5/8/16       #23: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...

Thank you for your time to make the video.
Very informative.
I now know that my old Beach Mfg shaper is too slow and lacks reverse.
My shaper now sucks.
I thought my shaper was a bargain at the 300.00 I paid for it.
I was wrong.
My shaper is a Ford Pinto and I am two steps from walking.

5/8/16       #24: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...
Dustin orth


Sorry for making you see a pinto Jim, it took me many years to get a shaper like that.

5/8/16       #25: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...
Mark V.


Cabinetmaking and model trains....sweet!


5/11/16       #26: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...
Karl E Brogger  Member


Bob, I cut those notches on a small rockwell shaper I picked up years ago on an auction for pennies. I had a set of dado heads cut with a 1" bore, built a weird tall fence for it, and use it for cutting the notch. I'm not producing near the numbers of drawers per month that you are, but I grew tired of doing it on the tablesaw and this works pretty well. I posted this video because I posted a picture of it on facebook and a friend asked WTF is it?

It's a little scary looking, but if you're doing it correctly your hands are nowhere near the cutters. I also had to get another pulley for the shaper so I could slow it down from ludicrous speeds. I found a calculator somewhere on the google to get the rpm in the correct range.

It works well, it's fast enough. If I had the money and were producing drawers in the quantities that you are I would buy a machine that cuts the notch without having to flip the drawer, and also drills the hole in the back. This shaper setup isn't great, but it's lightyears ahead of doing it on a stupid tablesaw.


6/5/16       #27: Cutting Drawer Box notches for unde ...

I have actually used a drill press and forestner bit in times past.

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